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Jazz → Meltdown  


Artist: George Haslam
George Haslam - Meltdown CD
Label: Slam
Regular Price: $13.95
On Sale For: $6.98 
Year: 2002
Format: CD


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This eponymous album, George Haslam's progressive big band Meltdown's first release, comprises five pieces recorded at separate sessions in 2000-2001. Four originate from group members, the fifth being Graham Collier's Eggshell Summer, the second movement of his suite Winter Oranges. The line-up varies slightly from one track to the next, but the instrumentation remains the same: trumpet, tuba, three to five saxophones, voice, piano, guitar, electric bass, drums, and percussion. The leader¹s vision derives from Duke Ellingtons band. It swings before it explores, but it does stretch limits. Haslam contributes two compositions, opening and closing the CD. In Variations: From Bop to Blues he lifts themes from Dizzy Gillespie's Things to Come and Richard Carpenter's Walkin and cleverly plays in and out of them. The piece will sound reassuringly orthodox to purists until the saxophone section (Julia Middleton, Pablo Ledesma, Ewen Baird, Geoff Hawkins, and Matthew F. Morris) breaks free and engage in a hearty free-form blow-out. Trumpeter Steve Waterman's Concerto for Congas was written for congero Robin Jones. The Latin themes used alongside European structures recall Kip Hanrahan's works. But the highlight is Collier's piece. Moodier, wider in terms of dynamics and textures, it forces the players into darker corners. As a bonus, it features talented vocalist Alison Bentley more extensively -- she even gets to improvise a solo. From swing to Latin to avant-garde, Meltdown covers a lot of ground and the resulting image does feel a bit blurry. But it is well-written, well-performed light avant-garde jazz.
Steve Waterman tpt; Andrew Claxton tuba; Julia Middleton alto sax;; Ewen Baird, ten sax; Geoff Hawkins flute; Matthew F. Morris bari sax; Alison Bentley voice; Jez Cooke gtr; Jerry Soffe bass; Steve Harris dms. Directed by George Haslam.
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